Sunday

29th May 2016

Russia gives EU six months extra on air passenger law

  • Russia assured the EU that its security services will not do anything untoward with the data (Photo: wikipedia)

Europeans can still fly to Russia, or over it, from Monday (1 July) without airlines giving their private data to Russian security services.

Under Russia's new Passenger Name Record (PNR) law, EU airlines as of next week have to hand over sensitive information, such as passengers' credit card details, or face landing and overflight bans.

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But if the airlines comply, they would fall foul of EU data protection rules because the Union has no legal framework for PNR exchange with Moscow.

The legal stalemate risked seeing tens of thousands of flights grounded.

But a European Commission source told EUobserver on Thursday: "The Russian side has ensured that the order will not apply to traffic between the EU and Russia until beginning 2014."

The postponement comes after a meeting between EU officials and Russian counterparts in Moscow on 21 June.

Officials from the Russian transport ministry also met with the Association of European Airlines (AEA), a Brussels-based trade body, in the EU capital earlier this week.

Viktoria Vajnai, an AEA spokeswoman, told this website: "As far as we're informed, there won't be any legal consequences if one of our companies does not transfer the required data to the Russians. This is a transitional period until the end of the year."

She added: "The European Commission understands the seriousness of the problem and we see that the Russian federation is willing to start negotiations to find a solution."

The Russian mission to the EU could not immediately comment.

But it said on its website on Wednesday the 21 June talks were "constructive and productive" and "the parties agreed to continue their dialogue."

It noted that it had "assured" the EU delegation that people's data will be protected by "relevant Russian legislation."

According to the commission, the situation arose because Russia failed to send official notification on the PNR law in time.

But Russia notes that the full text of the legislation has been public for almost a year.

The PNR spat comes amid parallel talks on an EU-Russia visa facilitation deal, with Russia keen for the EU to let its officials, or "service passport" holders, enter the Union visa free.

The commission source said Brussels did not give Moscow anything in return for the PNR suspension, however.

Finance ministers baulk at tax-avoidance rules

Member states will discuss again in June a proposed directive to outlaw practices used by large companies to avoid paying taxes. Meanwhile, the European Parliament makes progress on its probe of Panama Papers.

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